The Senators played two games this week against the Panthers and Avalanche and won both of them. While they weren't the prettiest of wins, they're worth four points and that's what counts at the end of the day. Here are some thoughts for you to mull over today.
1. Bringing Pesky Back
I don't mean to be a spoil-sport, but the notion of the #PeskySens troubles me a great deal. As much as I like a fun narrative surrounding the Senators, I can't help but think that pesky isn't actually a good thing. The Pesky Sens moniker was coined because of the Senators' ability to steal games and claw back from being behind, often in the third period. This isn't the mark of a good team, in my opinion. Indeed, being able to come back from behind is a good thing for a team to do, but they shouldn't have to rely on third period heroics too often. The sign of a good team is one that takes control of the game from the starting seconds and carries that control throughout the game. I'd prefer the Sens to be a 60-minute team, not a 20-minute team. If the Sens want to contend and push for the playoffs this year, they need to work towards being a consistent team every period. I'm not the only one who feels this way either as Graeme Nichols over at the 6th Sens wrote an entire article about it this week and Bobby Ryan told the Ottawa Citizen that he isn't a fan either.
2. The Dynamic Duo
The Senators' goaltenders look like they're in good shape early in the season. Craig Anderson has a .939 save percentage and Robin Lehner has a .950 save percentage. Although it's very early in the season, both goaltenders have appeared to be in good form. Their numbers will surely regress, but if both goaltenders can remain consistent all season, the Senators may have a chance. I've noticed that Anderson seems to have his confidence back. He started the game pretty poorly last night - although not all his fault - yet he clawed back and shut the door on the Avalanche, which gave the team a chance to win. Last year, I think he would have melted. Altogether, I think this tandem has looked solid thus far, which is important if the team is going to let 30+ shots against every game.
3. The KISS Principle
Wayne Gretzky said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." As a a coach, I try to teach my young athletes to take a shot if you have a chance because you never know what might happen. I hope MacLean is telling his team the same thing because sometimes they're infuriating to watch. I've noticed that the team over-complicates a lot of plays and they're losing scoring chances because of it. They make one extra pass to try and get into perfect scoring position or they wait too long to put the puck on the net. The consequence is often a turnover, blocked shot, or a broken play. If this team wants to start scoring more, they need to shoot more. They had 23 shots against Florida and scored one goal. That worked against Florida, but will that hold up against a team like Chicago or Montreal? Probably not. Yes, they scored five against Colorado, but that outcome may have been very different had Varlamov not been hurt. Keeping it simple and shooting on net, getting rebounds, and digging for those so-called "garbage" goals will serve this team well.
4. Disciplinary Reform?
After leading the league in minor penalties last season, one of the biggest questions heading into this season was whether or not the Senators could play disciplined hockey. As of now, the Senators are in the middle of the pack when it comes to the amount of penalties they've taken. They did have the third fewest penalty minutes before the game against Colorado where they took a few extra penalties, including a double-minor and a fighting major. Currently, the player with the most penalty minutes is Eric Gryba with 10, while known bad-boys Chris Neil and Zack Smith have kept mostly out of trouble, with the exception of Neil's fight during the Colorado game. That's impressive for both of them. If the Senators can consistently resist the urge to take foolish penalties, they will surely be in better shape than they were last year. I'd prefer it if their penalty-taking would trend downward even more, but remaining at least in the middle of the pack is a big improvement over last season. I suppose time will tell whether the leopards have changed their spots or not; frankly, they need to given their relatively anemic defensive-zone play.
5. The One-Two Punch
Bobby Ryan was moved to Zibanejad and Chiasson's line this week and Stone was moved into Ryan's spot with Turris and MacArthur. MacArthur-Turris-Stone have provided the bulk of the offense and have also put up respectable possession numbers. I don't think any of us expect any less from those three. An interesting combination for me has been the Ryan-Zibanejad-Chiasson line. During both games this week, their line showed both moments of brilliance and moments of dullness. They have the ability to forecheck hard and create chances, but sometimes they're ineffective, especially in the defensive zone. I suspect that they just need to build some more chemistry. If this line can start firing on all cylinders, it's going to give the Senators a solid top-six.
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!